The Scottish Government has published guidance on dealing with awkward social situations under the current coronavirus rules.
Research has shown that more than 80% of Scots have felt awkward when trying to adhere to restrictions and the majority have worried about appearing rude or hurting someone’s feelings.
Face mask requirements, social distancing and mixing other households are among the main issues that often cause tension in social settings.
Official advice is now available to help anyone who may struggle with these difficult issues.
In the guidance, the Scottish Government suggests people frame what they say as an offer rather than a request in a bid to reduce tension.
For example, rather than saying “please wear a mask”, it suggests people make an offer such as “do you need a mask? I’ve several spare ones”.
The guidance also advises people should offer a loved one a “virtual hug” if they ever move towards them for a physical embrace.
Here’s the full government advice on what to do and say in difficult social situations:
A friend goes in for a hug or handshake
The Scottish Government suggests offering loved ones a “virtual hug” to avoid physical contact.
The advice offers this example: “I so want to hug you! But I guess we have to wait until it’s safe.
“I don’t want to risk harming you or anyone else you are in contact with. I’m giving you a virtual hug”
Someone you know removes their mask indoors
The advice offers up alternative ways to avoid those who remove their masks indoors.
For example a colleague in a coffee shop and they take off their mask to speak to you.
The guidance suggests you offer an explanation and an alternative, such as “Let’s catch up outside? Where there’s space to keep a wee distance”.
Someone sits too close to you on public transport
A common awkward situation is when people do not adhere to social distancing rules on public transport.
During this scenario, the advice suggests making a polite offer with care such as “I’m happy to move if that’s easier for you?”.
Someone in public isn’t adhering to a two-metre distance
A similar situation to the previous example is when someone in public is standing too close to you and isn’t keeping a two-metre distance.
The Scottish Government suggests moving yourself away will remove the need for you to say something.
But it states if you still need to say something, give them a friendly reminder such as “I’ll step back and give you some space – it’s tricky in busy spaces to keep to two metres apart isn’t it?”
Declining an offer from a friend when guidance isn’t being followed
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the UK for nearly a year now, so it has prevented certain events and celebrations taking place.
Weddings, birthdays and festive celebrations have been urged to be put on hold or held online in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus.
The Scottish Government’s advice says it is OK to politely decline an offer to do something if it’s a situation where the guidance isn’t being followed.
For example, if a friend invites you to birthday drinks at their house, it suggests providing a positive reason for declining and offer an alternative – such as: “I wouldn’t want to risk infecting you – that would be the worst birthday present ever.
“Let’s have a birthday zoom and plan a bigger celebration when it’s safe to get together”.